Livewire Looney as enthusiastic as ever for club success
Dynamic and free scoring wing forward Brian Looney, who burst on to the senior scene as a 19-year old, and was the Championship winning captain in 2010, is looking to add further to his spiralling medal haul that includes six County Championships, eight O'Donoghue Cups and five Munsters Club Championships, as well, of course, as the All Ireland medals he has won with his club and the county (at U-21). Looney's enthusiasm for the game, and his ambition for more success, remains as strong as ever.
"I don't find (staying fresh) too difficult personally, with the years you get to look after the body, you know what works and doesn't work. Earlier in the year after the All-Ireland win we had the opportunity to give the bodies a bit of a break, we tapered back our training a little bit as well, which was very important for the year ahead.
"I suppose our strength in depth over the years has been a real bonus and probably one of the big factors in having the success we did last year. A lot of credit to the young fellows who are really pushing over the last number of years, and who have broken onto the team. Nobody can rest on their laurels, there's very few guaranteed places, and that's what keeps it fresh."
Does Looney have any issue or concern over having to travel to Pairc Ui Rinn and the advantage it might afford to the opposition?
"Nemo would have played a lot more there than we would in the last number of years. I suppose they will have the benefit of being familiar with the surroundings, so that might be a plus on their side. I don't see it as being a major inconvenience for us, at the end of the day it's white lines and two goal posts," he said, before dismissing the notion that Crokes favourite's tag is any burden to bear.
"We have zero control over that, our focus really is that we are right mentally going into it. The benefit of having been on the road for a number of years is that we do realise the challenges that are out there, specifically when you get out of the county. It's a different type of Championship, there's a savage intensity to it. I suppose we have taken on that experience to realise that you can't take anything for granted.
"So the days of playing under par and getting over the line are non-existent when you get to this level. It comes back to the point that we have to be one hundred per cent ready to give probably our best performance of the year, and hope it's good enough on Sunday.
"You are coming to the time of year when you have a huge amount of games played in a period of time, so with the Munster final coming up this Sunday any bit of freshness we can get into the body is very important, so we had a good training week, we tapered down this week, got the bodies right, because it's been a very hectic couple of months, later on in the year it takes a bit more out of the body."
The last team to beat Dr Crokes in a Munster Club Championship - wouldn't you know - was Nemo Rangers, a fact not lost on Looney.
"I was playing that day up in Mallow, but it's now a much changed Nemo team. I suppose a good few changes on our side as well. By their own standards, I suppose they have had a few quiet years in Cork, but they are certainly back with a bang this year. It could be any kind of game, it doesn't always play to script when you have the level of forwards which both sides have you can get a low scoring game as well. The forwards they have, we will be conscious of that, we can't give them free rein.
"We have been defending well over the last number of weeks, especially against Kilmurry-Ibrickane, the lads in the backs and all over the pitch will have to step it up defensively this week. The management team will have their bit of homework and research done, that can be of benefit, but you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don't turn up on the day it's no good to you. We need to tune in to what we are doing, get the focus right, and we will have to be at our best on Sunday to give ourselves a chance."